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New president elected in Mexico after dozens of candidates killed in bullets before ballots cartel violence

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Mexico elected its first female president over the weekend, a socialist committed to carrying out the former president’s policies after 30 local candidates were killed in what has been described as cartel orchestrated “bullets before ballots” violence sweeping the country.

Far-left “climate scientist,” Claudia Sheinbaum of the ruling Morena party, defeated her female opponent Xóchitl Gálvez, in Mexico’s general election on Sunday. Her term begins Oct. 1.

Sheinbaum, a former Mexico City mayor, has vowed to continue many of the policies of her mentor, outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Obrador has argued that the U.S. “drug problem” is not Mexico’s problem and he wasn’t interested in “policing” cartels trafficking fentanyl across the border into the U.S. He also claimed cartel crime was going down despite reports to the contrary, implemented a “hugs, not bullets” cartel policy, and supported Mexico’s lawsuit against U.S. gun manufacturers claiming they were responsible for Mexico’s gun violence.

Obrador also demanded Mexico receive U.S. funding to advance the Biden administration’s “legal pathways” policy, fast-tracking foreign nationals to be processed into the U.S. instead of deported after they illegally entered the U.S. through Mexico, The Center Square reported. He also called on Americans not to vote for Republican governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas because of their commitment to border security.

Despite Obrador’s claims, “Mexico faces a crisis of kidnappings, disappearances, and other criminal violence that has left over thirty-thousand people dead each year since 2018 … largely perpetrated by gangs and drug cartels,” according to the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Conflict Tracker. “Drugs from the cartels also flow over the border, fueling a drug overdose epidemic in the United States,” it says, reiterating the claims of federal, state and local law enforcement in the U.S.

The fentanyl epidemic is fueled by Mexican transnational criminal organizations, the Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco New Generation Cartel, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says. They “remain the greatest criminal drug threat in the United States” as “the principal wholesale drug sources for domestic gangs responsible for street-level distribution.”

Under the Biden and Obrador administrations, fentanyl became the leading cause of death for U.S. adults, and American children under age 14 were dying from fentanyl at a faster rate than any other age group, The Center Square reported.

Under Obrador, according to the human rights organization, ARTICLE 19, “the number of aggressions against the press in Mexico in 2022 exceeded all previous records, with a documented attack every 13 hours.” In 2022, 696 attacks against the press were documented, making it “the most violent year for journalism” since ARTICLE 19 began recording the data in 2007.

After 12 journalists were murdered in Mexico in 2022, Mexico was positioned “as the most lethal country to practice journalism in the Americas, with figures similar to those of war-torn countries,” the group found. Under Obrador, violence against journalists increased by 85%; 37 journalists were killed during his presidency, Article 19 reported.

As violence escalated, as Obrador became increasingly anti-American, and ahead of Mexico’s bloody election cycle, an international coalition led by the Texas Public Policy Foundation called on policy makers in Washington, D.C., to alter its policy with Mexico.

Last July, the coalition argued, “the old policy consensus that undergirded NAFTA, USMCA, and a generation of cooperative and friendly U.S.-Mexico relations has collapsed. The Mexican government is not an ally to the United States and can no longer properly be described as a partner. … The Mexican government and Mexican criminal cartels exist in conscious and willing symbiosis, at multiple levels, up to and including the Mexican presidency,” devastating the lives of citizens of Mexico and the United States.

A few months later, a gang and cartel operation was underway, referred to as “bullets before ballots” by the Los Angeles Times. Ahead of the June 2 election, over the 10-month election cycle, 749 victims of violence, including 231 murders had been reported by the Mexican consultant group, Integralia, as of one week before the election.

Integralia’s new report found that political violence increased 150.5% this election cycle compared to 2021. “If the daily average is maintained (2.8), we project more than 760 total victims after the election,” Integralia said.

It also recorded 316 attacks against candidates, including 34 murders during the months leading up to the June 2 election.

Types of violence it tracked included “murders, attacks with firearms, threats, kidnappings, disappearances and other forms of high-impact violence against officials or former members of the country.” Victims include “officials, politicians or former politicians, aspirants or candidates, relatives of such actors and collateral victims.”

Ahead of the 2018 election when Obrador was elected, 48 candidates were murdered, the Mexican daily El Universal reported.

So far, neither Congress nor the president has responded to the Texas-led coalition’s concerns about the border crisis, cartel violence or Obrador’s election interference.